The most exciting recent news for content: Artwork for the upcoming album is 95% complete! Aside from a few small changes (which may or may not actually take place) the album art is simply amazing; I would happily release it as is, though I have asked for a revision for the sake of possibly clarifying the concept even further.
In winter 2015, I commissioned a notable digital artist to create the artwork for my upcoming hard rock/metal concept album – due for release this year (initially, I’d predicted a late-Spring release, though this is looking unlikely as time ticks by). The artist in question was a rising star reddit user by the name of Chema Mendez. I’d come across his art several times in one week, and thanks to a breakout front page thread on /r/pics, I ended up perusing his entire portfolio. I ultimately came to the conclusion that this was the artist who could appropriately bring my vision of concept to life. I came across contact information for him, and have waited months for this.
I patiently allowed him time and space to do what he does best, and it was well worth the wait, I must say. A small price to pay for excellent work. This experience proves to me that good art cannot be forced, and only reinforces my efforts on this album. I imagine in the future, I’m going to have many questions about the art in particular, so I’m preempting that in this post.
At present I have upwards of 20 demos that I’m fleshing out into full songs. When those are completed, I’ll be giving them all strong consideration, and from there begin to determine a track listing.
This album is a concept album, and I have put a lot of thought into what this album should be. I’m orchestrating (or attempting to) an entirely unique piece of art – everything from the album art, to the mood of the music, and the meaning of the lyrics – they all coincide to create one whole. That’s not to say the tracks won’t be individually consumable, I’m just typically not the most avant garde with my music (though I do attempt to be progressive in my own nature) and I am trying to maintain as cohesive listening experience as possible. But every song is its own, and will be available individually.
Older musicians say “The Album” as a modern art (of which it most certainly is a modern advent of the recording industry) is dead, and that everything is that “single-serving consumerist product” nowadays, which Jack alluded to in one of his diatribes early on in the film version of Fight Club. I don’t think it’s dead at all. In fact, I’d submit that it’s now as artistic of an endeavor as it ever was, if not even more so. You think about the “quick hit beats” and fifteen minutes pop artists present nowadays- sure, they sate the ADD of the modern consumerist culture when they have a couple of minutes on a drive to and from work (or even at work). But when you go on a long drive, you create a mixtape (*ahem* playlist…some might be surprised at the amount of people still burning CDs for their vehicles, even while most modern stock PCs no longer come with a disc drive).
When you need a break from podcasts and talking heads on TV, you want a cohesive set list of a certain brand. That’s why Pandora is out, and Spotify and Google Play/YouTube curated playlists are the new(ish) best thing about streaming radio. It’s all about having music that’s similar, holds a spiritual relationship from one song to the next, or having a person of a specific mind which you relate to on a personal level (with [arguably] more wisdom for the groove of a string of songs together) put something up to just press play for. I’m digressing infinitely, but I think you get my meaning.
The playlist is the new album, and it’s one giant compilation album. It’s a reason why I was infatuated with film soundtracks when I was younger, and why Roadrunner Records had one of the best musical album releases of all time (my own opinion) with The All-Star Sessions. Sure, it wasn’t a “concept album” necessarily, but it was a true all-star gathering of great aggressive and frustrated and influential musical minds that created some of the most insane art and tribute as a basic concept.
I’d submit that it is also the reason that raves and enormous multi-day and multi-artist open-air shows are what’s culturally relevant now (not saying they never weren’t…there’s a reason people still speak of Woodstock- which was almost 50 years ago now). People want a lot of similar – not necessarily of the same. And the majority of album releases in previous decades were simply mostly filler, “artists” putting out trash without substance. And now, the cream of little substance rises to the top (which is why I myself even have become a fan of “Top 40” over recent years). Singles are now the presentation of the best of the artist (how “good” that may be is entirely subjective), and unless it’s something unique and new, and truly transformative in the case of artists like Skrillex and Macklemore, or classically groove-worthy music of feeling like Adele, we don’t need to hear more than the single.
There are two main genres that seem to subvert this modern notion of “Singles Only, Please!” radio play, and that’s the hardened core of metal, and the hip hop crowd. Truly opposing sides of the industry as a whole, and while I would say that I personally fall squarely in the metal camp, that certainly doesn’t mean that I don’t respect hip hop culture. To the contrary, I respect beyond words that the hip hop crowd truly has as deep a connection with the meaning and feeling of their music as the metalheads of the world, and I’ll say that there is simply some excellent rap and hip hop artists out there who truly impress me as much as any metal legend (though whom I also personally may or may not hold as high a torch for). From a young age, metal spoke to me, and it has by far the deepest connection with my musical being – as an artist certainly, but mostly as a listener. All of that being said, these two cultures are rabid about what’s good, and considered the “best”. You can look at “Top 10’s” and all kinds of lists, and even the genealogy of sub-genres (take a peek at Sam Dunn’s lexicon of metal history on the BangerTV YouTube channel; and I’m sure there is a hip hop equivalent). What you’ll quickly find is the deep respect and widely-regarded “best of’s” of each genre (and sub-genre).
Back to the album…
I’ve drawn from 13 years of audio and music production experience to culminate in the release of this album. I am employing every skill I’ve gained over that time, and not the least of which what I’ve learned over the past year more than any. There is a cohesion in the album that excites me. This is a solid concept album. From the mood of the music, to the lyrics, to the art, lah-dee-dah-dee-dah everything I’ve said before. I’m simply so excited to get this finished, yet there’s still most of the work to be done from now. That being said, it will go much much quicker when I finally get passed the demo & tracking stages, because it’s all pretty clear. It’s making the existing and continuous pieces fit together the way I want that is the hardest part. I’ve made so much music, that I want this to be more special than any before. And I’ve retooled old tracks that I feel fit my vision, it’s just too exciting. Can’t wait for people to hear it. In the meantime, if you’re reading this (no one currently does), feel free to drop me a line, and we can chat, and maybe collaborate in the future!